When the Assassins came to School

This is a story about a hockey game. The setting is a college in Michigan, where an international exhibition game took place in the 1980s.

I’ll get back to hockey later, though. First some background. An officer defected from the Soviet Army. He had served in military intelligence, and was an expert on all aspects of Soviet forces. He had experience leading SPETSNAZ soldiers. These were sometimes called the Soviet equivalent of US Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). That’s not true, though. US Special Forces conduct five key missions, where SPETSNAZ focus on only one mission, direct action. When the Soviet officer wrote the book ‘Inside the Soviet Army’ under the pseudonym ‘Victor Suvorov’, he referred to SPETSNAZ as diversionary and terrorist troops. Their job was to sneak past the front lines and attack targets in the ‘safe’ rear areas, including civilian targets.

Within SPETSNAZ, an elite within the elite posed as military athletes, touring other countries in sports exhibitions so they could study the places where they would operate in wartime. The very best of these were in a SPETSNAZ long range reconnaissance regiment in Moscow. They competed in athletics as the Central Army Sports Club and every four years formed the Soviet Union’s Olympic team.

Separately from the Army, the Committee for State Security (KGB) had its own SPETSNAZ troops, with the same mission: diversionary attacks and assassinations. Their targets would be selected by the KGB instead of military intelligence (GRU). These KGB troops posed as touring athletes like the Central Army Sports Club, but competed under the name Dynamo Sports Club.

Now, getting back to hockey. My school’s hockey team played an exhibition game against the Moscow Dynamo hockey team. These hockey players were KGB assassins and saboteurs, but nothing blew up and there were no murders while they were in town. This was peacetime, of course, so it was just a reconnaissance mission. Just an effort to get the team familiar with various places in the USA, in case of war.

Nowadays things are different, of course. The Cold War ended, the Soviet Union is gone, only Russia remains. The Russian Army is much smaller than the Soviet, and less threatening than it was, but it still has the GRU. The KGB is gone, but the FSU still conducts the same espionage mission against targets inside and outside Russia. Of course, there are still a Central Army Sports Club and a Dynamo Sports Club, and there are still SPETSNAZ troops.

EDIT to add: Sorry I don’t remember who won the game. Probably Dynamo. My school’s team was good, but maybe not elite KGB assassin good.


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